If I get one more fundraising email from Democratic politicians -- everyone from President Obama to Michelle Obama, to Joe Biden, to Harry Reid, to Nancy Pelosi -- asking me for money to stop the Republicans from impeaching President Obama, not only will I likely throw up; I may have to change my email address.
And if I were a Republican, I'd probably feel the same way about an endless stream of emails asking for money to stop Obama from exercising dictatorial powers, to sue him, or possibly impeach him.
Is this Kabuki theater the best our political leaders can come up with?
Listen, people: The House Republicans' lawsuit against Obama will almost certainly get thrown out of court as a "political question" that the judiciary is loathe to involve itself in (but not before Republicans raise millions of dollars from their Obama-hating base and Democrats raise millions of dollars from their Boehner-hating base).
And even today's House Republicans are probably not dumb enough to do to Obama what House Republicans did to Bill Clinton -- impeach him, thus causing a backlash, which raised Clinton's approval ratings and helped him turn a losing hand in upcoming congressional races into a winning hand. The White House is all but begging Republicans who want to impeach President Obama to "Go ahead. Make my day."
The only people who will benefit from this ginned-up political food fight are the permanent class of professional political consultants who will rake in huge fees to advise Democrats and Republicans on how to spend their new-found cash, produce a slew of new attack ads, and take fat commissions placing those ads on TV.
Some professional political consultants tell me that they've done focus groups, based on which they advise politicians that the best way to raise money is to scare donors about the evils of the other party, rather than to tell them what the candidates will actually do to solve the nation's serious problems.
Hence the endless stream of fundraising emails I receive from Democratic politicians on the dangers of Ted Cruz or John Boehner, or the Republican war on women, and the paucity of emails on what Democrats will do to fix the broken tax system, address climate change, alleviate economic inequality, deal with immigration, or God forbid, reign in the power of the big banks and other crony capitalists.
And while I'm not on Republican fundraising email lists, my guess is their fundraising is just the flip side of this, scaring their voters about Obama's alleged dictatorial powers while saying little about what Republicans would actually do to fix the country.
And maybe scare tactics actually work on some members of both parties' bases. But they turn off large swatches of citizens, myself included.
As someone who has made big enough donations (i.e. over $200) to be listed by the Federal Election Commission, but not big enough (i.e. less than $1,000) to be considered a heavy-hitter by party fundraisers, I'm here to tell you that these tactics are counterproductive for me and many others, make us less, not more, likely to contribute to political campaigns, and contribute to widespread political cynicism.
If you want our money, tell us what you're going to accomplish, not just how bad the other side is.
If I haven't responded to your first, second, third, fourth, or fifth scary fundraising email this week, stop sending me more follow-up emails asking why I didn't respond to your earlier ones. You're just pissing me off, clogging my inbox, and making me less likely to give you money!!!
The only political contributions I've made so far in this 2014 season have been to MAYDAY PAC, the Super Pac dedicated to ending all Super Pacs founded by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, one of the leading voices in the fight to end the corrupting influence of big money in American politics.
As MAYDAY PAC's website states:
"WE ARE A CROWDFUNDED SUPERPAC TO END ALL SUPER*
* yes, including ourselves.
We are using the power of citizen-funded big money to fight the big money of crony capitalists and special interests on both the left and the right.
Ironic? Yes. Embrace the irony."
MAYDAY PAC has used crowdfunding (and yes, a few larger donors) to raise over $5 million to help elect candidates who support citizen-funded elections and to defeat candidates who don't, regardless of political party.
As Larry Lessig wrote in his book REPUBLIC LOST: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It,
"'There is only one issue in this country...[c]ampaign finance reform...[P]ractically every important issue in American politics today is tied to this 'one issue in this country'...For both the Left and the Right, until this 'one issue' gets fixed, there won't be progress on a wide range of critically important policy issues. Until it gets fixed, governance remains stalled."
The food fight ginned up by Democrats and Republicans over suing, or possibly impeaching, the president -- the real purpose of which is to raise money for both parties -- is proof that the corrupting influence of money in politics must be fixed before our leaders seriously try to do something about the nation's other serious problems.
With the House having voted to sue the president, Congress now leaves on a month-long vacation without having addressed pressing problems like the immigration crisis or American corporations becoming Irish or Dutch on paper to avoid paying American taxes.
So stop sending me your damn fundraising emails unless you're going to tell me what you're going to do to end the corrupting influence of big money which is paralyzing our fragile Republic and keeping us from dealing with the real issues.
Otherwise, you're spam.
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